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Defining What We Do
by Beverley Paine, Aut 2012, revised Jan 2020
I am often asked what is the difference between homeschooling and unschooling?
What is the difference between homeschooling and unschooling?
I find that I used to use the term homeschooling more often than any other descriptor because people seem to instantly understand what I'm talking about. I now prefer the term home education as a generic term but even now still get a few blank or confused looks. In the last few years unschooling has become a popular term and some think it is the same as homeschooling - it isn't.
Home educating is taking responsibility for and control of your children's education personally instead of delegating it to a school or teacher. You select from a huge range of pedagogical approaches and learning materials and resources. Unschooling may be one of these. As is homeschooling, or as it sometimes known, 'school-at-home'. With homeschooling you proceed as your child's teacher, with your home as a resource-rich classroom, usually using the whole community as a resource too. You might organise lessons for your children in the different subjects, have a time table or schedule, and generally follow the curriculum in a sequential, organised manner.
Unschooling is quite a bit different: it is a rejection of the traditional reasons for schooling children and the methods used to educate them. That is, segmenting learning into chunks and spoon feeding it according to a set timetable as though children are passive receivers of knowledge and skills. Unschooling is respecting children and young people as individuals and capable learners. It is trusting in their innate natural learning ability. Instead of teaching children what we think they ought to know because someone else says they should, we help them learn what they need to learn in order to grow and develop. It's much more than an approach to the education of children, it's a way of life.
Natural learning, sometimes used as a way to describe unschooling, is simply celebrating the fact that everyone learns all the time and that by reflecting on the processes by which we learn we can become more focused in meeting our learning needs efficiently, achieving our goals and purposes in our own way and time frame.
Radical unschoolers take the principles of unschooling and apply it holistically across all areas of life, not just to the 'education' of their children. It's not simply living without school and the whole school paradigm of education, and it's way more than living without 'boundaries' and 'rules' - it's living with trust and respect, relationships and connections as the drivers of all actions.
All of the above are effective and successful ways to approach the education of your child.
The aim of The Educating Parent is to help others deschool (question and challenging our conditioning about the role and purpose of education) so that they can fully enjoy learning at home with their children no matter what approach to education they adopt. As educating parents we will find that what, how and why of what we're doing constantly changes as it meets the changing needs of our growing children and our family circumstances.
See also About Home Education
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.
The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.
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